1710 – Campaign in Spain

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1710 – Campaign in Spain

The campaign lasted from May to December 1710

Introduction

In 1709, the efforts of King Philip V to make himself master of the important position of Balaguer had failed. At the end of the year, the largest part of the French troops operating in Spain under the command of the Maréchal de Bezons had returned to France.

However, for the campaign of 1710, Field Marshal Starhemberg lacked money, provisions, horses and everything necessary to equip his army. The help of the Allies, especially Great Britain and the Dutch Republic was uncertain.

In January and February 1710, Archduke Charles and Starhemberg undertook a journey in Catalonia to inspect the places of Gerona, Vich, Berga, Manresa and Cardona. The Catalans still enthusiastically supported the cause of the archduke. Their militias served well, but only wanted to be commanded by local commanders. Apart from the Swiss Buol Infantry (900 men), only 9 British bns led by General Wils were on their way to Spain. The newly formed Imperial regiments were still in Italy.

Map

Map of Spain and Portugal circa 1700 published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain

Description

On 14 May, Field Marshal Starhemberg left Barcelona and went by way of Igualada, Cervera, Tarrega, Villagrasa to Agramunt.

On 15 May, Philip V crossed the Segre River with 40 bns, 74 sqns and 21 field guns. His army camped between Vilanueva de la Barca and Termenz.

On 16 May, Starhemberg arrived at Agramunt. He was not worried by the advance of the French, as Balaguer was occupied by FML Count Tattenbach with 1 Lombard, 2 Neapolitan and 1 Swiss bns, in addition to 300 migueletes and 100 horse. Colonel O'Dwyer occupied Camerasa, near the bridgehead on the Segre River with Reventlau Infantry (2 bns) and some militia.

On 19 May, the army of Philip V led by the [[Villadarias, Francisco del Castillo y Fajardo, Marquis of |Marquis de Villadarias]] marched to Lerida.

On 20 May, Villadarias's Army encamped under the walls of the Fortress of Lerida.

On 21 May, the French proceeded to Alguayre. Lieutenant-General Amezaga with 2,000 foot and 1 dragoon rgt was sent to the northern district of Ribagorcana. He then went to Aren, where he relieved the garrison (150 men) and resupplied the castle with provisions.

On 24 May, General James Stanhope arrived in Barcelona with 1,000 foot, the necessary money and a significant stock of cereal and was greeted with jubilation by the population.

On 26 May, Amezaga was attacked by Major-General Schober with 1 bn of Reventlau Infantry while he was returning from his expedition to Aren.

On 27 May, other engagements took place between Amezaga's and Schober's forces. In the actions of the last two days, Amezaga had lost more than 400 men.

At the end of May, a reinforcement of 4,000 men arrived from Flanders at the camp of Philip V. Villadarias with the main army remained between Alguayre and Almenar.

On 28 May, Villadarias's Army marched to Corbins and took an advantageous position vis-à-vis the Allies.

On 30 May, Philip V, escorted by some squadrons, crossed the Noguera River and reconnoitred the position of the Allies.

On 1 June, Amezaga, reinforced by 2 rgts, marched to Estadilla and cannonaded the city walls with 3 guns brought from Monzon. The garrison retreated to the Citadel.

On 2 June, the garrison of the Citadel of Estadilla surrendered as prisoners of war. Amezaga put 250 men with 3 guns in Estadilla and returned to the camp at Corbins.

On 5 June, Archduke Charles left Barcelona to join his army. FM Starhemberg sent the Jörger von Tollet Dragoons, led by Major-General Count Galves, to Calaf to welcome him.

On 7 June, FML Count Atalaya and Brigadier Count von Nassau left the Allied camp with 15 sqns to meet the archduke on his way.

On 8 June, Archduke Charles reviewed the Allied army.

In the night of 11 June, Philip V crossed the Segre River near Lerida with his whole army and marched to Bellvis. His army took position on the ridge three hours from Balaguer. The positions of the Allies seemed too strong to be stormed and, after two hours, Philip's Army moved to a new camp at Belcayre.

By 13 June, the entire Allied army had been under arms for two nights, awaiting the attack of the French. In the morning, the Allies realised that the Franco-Spanish army was approaching in full battle order. The guns opened fire on them, Archduke Charles rode through the ranks of his soldiers, and was greeted everywhere with cheers. Once again, Villadarias found the position of the Allies too strong, and considered that his troops were too exhausted to give battle. After a brief cannonade where he lost some 300 men, Villadarias retired to Belcayre.

On 14 June, Villadarias's Army moved to a new camp between Ybars and Bellpuig. The Allies crossed the Segre River and marched west to the Noguera River.

On 15 June, Starhemberg's Army completed the crossing of the Noguera. Now both armies stood in enemy territory, but the situation of FM Starhemberg was better, since Philip V had to reckon with the resistance of the Catalan population. FML Baron Wetzel concentrated his troops in the north part of Ampurda and positioned himself near Puente-de-Molins, while Major-General Baron Gondrecourt with 89 grenadier coys and 800 horse went to Menarges, opposite Termenze.

On 18 June, the II./Buol Infantry reinforced Balaguer.

On 24 June, Starhemberg's Army marched in six columns to Balaguer, the detachment of Major-General Baron Gondrecourt covered their right flank along the Segre River, and FML Count Atalaya formed the rearguard with 10 grenadier coys. and 2 dragoon rgts.

On 28 June, a British fleet arrived at Barcelona and – in accordance with Archduke Charles's orders – proceeded to Tarragona.

During the whole month, Allied detachments had harassed the enemies, inflicting them heavy losses.

On 1 July, the British fleet reached Tarragona, and Browne Infantry (unidentified unit) and Eckh Infantry as well as a number of recruits, a total of 3,600 men were landed. Admiral Norris proceeded immediately to Terranova.

The Imperial infantry led by Major-General Browne attacked the Franco-Spanish troops, General Count Castillo and Marquis de la Rossa, along with 2 colonels, 50 officers and 400 men were taken prisoners.

The British fleet then followed the troops of the Duke de Tursis. However, Tursis had already fled to Porto Longone on the Island of Elba.

On 24 July, the British fleet sailed to Sète, the Governor of Languedoc, the Duc de Roquelar, hurriedly left the city and took refuge in Frontignan. British troops led by Count Seyssan occupied Sète. The Duc de Noailles sent 1,000 grenadiers and 900 horse with 12 guns to Sète. Since the British fleet could not provide any direct support, Seyssan had to evacuate the city after a brief defence. A total of 4 British officers and 190 men were taken prisoners.

Admiral Norris remained for some days off the coast near Sète.

Since the beginning of July, both armies had harassed each other. The Franco-Spanish army was suffering from a lack of water, because due to the constant heat the wells had dried up. Philip V therefore decided to leave Catalonia and march to Aragon.

On 26 July

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The army marched to Lerida.
  • Allies
    • Archduke Charles held a council of war in his headquarters. It was decided to go on the offensive. FM Starhemberg had now – with Wetzel's troops – 35 bns and 52 sqns, for a total of 18,000 foot and 5,000 horse.
    • In the afternoon, Count Stanhope marched with 20 grenadier coys, 8 light dragoons coys, 6 light guns and the complete pontoon train towards the Noguera River. The cavalry crossed the river and Stanhope erected a bridge.

On 27 July, the Battle of Almenar took place. The battle ended with a complete victory for the Allies.

On 29 July, a solemn service was held and Archduke Charles sent couriers to announce his victory to Barcelona (Count Althann), Vienna (Erasmus Count Starhemberg), London (Colonel von Craft) and The Hague (the son of General Belcastel).

Philip V removed Villadarias from command and confided the interim command to the Marquis de Bay. Shortly afterwards, the Maréchal de Vendôme, was sent from Paris to Spain, to take command of the army.

On 1 August, FM Starhemberg marched from Almenar by way of Binefarr to Monzon. The small garrison (250 men) was forced to surrender as prisoners of war.

Because of the persistent great heat, the Allied army rested for several days.

On 12 August, the Allies crossed the Noguera River and marched on the left bank of the Cinca River to Alvalate and Zaidin, approaching Farga and in its vicinity and hoping to force Philip V to offer battle.

Since the line of communication of the Franco-Spanish army with Castile was endangered, Philip V marched from Lerida to Fraga to reach Saragossa by way of Cinca.

On 15 August

  • Allies
    • FM Starhemberg's troops erected a bridge on the Cinca River and encamped on its right bank. Scouts brought the news that the Franco-Spanish army was marching on the road to Saragossa.
    • FM Starhemberg followed Philip's Army but could not catch up with them.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Philip V reached Penalva and occupied an advantageous position on the ridges, where the Allies could not attack him.
    • When the Allies captured one of his convoy of provisions, Philip V abandoned his advantageous position and marched by way of Bujarolos and Venta-di-Santa-Luciato to Saragossa.

On 17 August, Philip's Army reached the defiles of Osera. The king then personally went to Saragossa, confiding command of his army to the Marquis de Bay.

On 19 August

  • Allies
    • The Allies established a pontoon bridge near Aguilar, crossed the Ebro River, marched to Saragossa and encamped at an hour-march from Saragossa and the Franco-Spanish army.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The army deployed on order of battle south of Saragossa.

On 20 August, the two armies clashed in the Battle of Saragossa. After a combat that lasted three hours, the Franco-Spanish army retired. After the battle, FM Starhemberg sent 2,000 horse under Lieutenant-General Atalaya to follow the defeated army.

On 21 August, Archduke Charles entered Saragossa under the acclamations of the population and established his residence in the episcopal palace. He returned all rights and privileges to the province. The City of Saragossa gave him 60,000 gold pieces to finance the war.

The Franco-Spanish army retreated by way of Tudela, Agreda and Sorie to Madrid.

On 24 August, Franco-Spanish army arrived at Madrid.

Subsequently, there were disagreements between FM Starhemberg, FM Stanhope and the Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch generals. Stanhope wanted to move immediately to Madrid, as it was believed that the Franco-Spanish army was totally ruined. As the British and Dutch troops formed a large part of the army and as Starhemberg could not rely on British subsidies, Starhemberg had no choice but to give in Stanhope's urging. Archduke Charles judged the situation completely correctly and wrote to his wife: "If the plan of the British succeeds, they will appropriate the glory, but if it fails, all misfortune falls on me alone."

On 7 September, the Allied army left Calatayud and marched by way of Ariza, Alhama, Huerta and Medinaceli towards Siguenza on the Henares River, on its way to Madrid.

On 12 September, the Allied army reached Siguenza.

The population of Madrid was on the side of Philip V, but his army, weakened after two defeats, was unable to defend the city, so it was decided to move the entire court to Valladolid.

On 16 September, the court of Philip V arrived at Valladolid.

On 20 September

  • Allies
    • The Allied army reached Alcalà-de-Henares.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Maréchal de Vendôme and the Duc de Noailles reached Valladolid.
    • To bring the Spanish nobility to his side, King Philip V appointed the Marquis d'Ayetone, the Duke de Pepoli, the Count de las Torres, the Marquis de Valdecanas, the Count d'Aguilar and the French Lieutenant-General de Thouy as captains-generals, the highest dignity to be bestowed in the Spanish Army.
    • To reinforce the troops in Spain, King Louis XIV sent 40 bns and 50 sqns from Languedoc, Provence and Dauphiné to Spain.

Vendôme immediately sent de Bay back to Extremadura to prevent the junction of Villaverde's and Starhemberg's armies.

On 26 September, Starhemberg's Army encamped near Quinta-de-Canillejas, the cavalry near the Manzanares River. Archduke Charles took his quarter in the castle of Count Aguilar near Madrid.

On 28 September, the Allies entered Madrid. The population received Archduke Charles very unkindly, and he left the city on the same day and returned to castle of Count Aguilar.

At the beginning of October FM Starhemberg march to el Pardo with his army. The Anglo-Portuguese army, which stood under Count Villaverde on the Portuguese-Spanish border, was asked to march immediately to Castile. Villaverde made the attempt, but when he learned of the presence of the Marquis de Bay at Merida with 10,000 men, he withdrew to Jerez-de-los-Caballeros.

The situation of the Allies in Spain became more and more difficult, and the passive resistance of the population grew.

On 2 October, King Philip V and the Maréchal de Vendôme marched southwards with their army.

On 14 October, Philip V and Vendôme reached Almaraz on the Tagus River while light cavalry led by Vallejos reached the suburbs of Madrid. Philip V was now at the head of 40 bns and 83 sqns, for a total of 16,500 foot and 11,000 horse. Don Pedro Ronquillo with 600 horse entered Madrid and was welcomed by the population as a saviour.

On 29 October, Villaverde held a council of war to decide whether to keep Madrid, to establish the location of the winter-quarters, and to determine how to supply the army. Archduke Charles demanded to keep Madrid for as long as possible.

In mid-November, due to the difficulty of finding provisions, Starhemberg's army marched to Ciempozuelos. The commander of Toledo, Count Atalaya, reported that a strong Franco-Spanish corps (13,000 foot, 8,000 horse) had arrived in Talavera.

On 16 November, during a meeting in Ciempozuelos, it was decided that Archduke Charles should go back to Barcelona, FML Baron Wetzel should occupy Cifuentes and build provision magazines for the army.

On 18 November, Archduke Charles left Ciempozuelos with an escort of only 200 dragoons.

On 19 November, FM Starhemberg established his new headquarters in Chinchon, and his army encamped in the neighbourhood between the Tagus and the Tajuna.

When Starhemberg learned of the presence of strong French forces in Catalonia, he decided to march his army as quickly as possible to the northern provinces.

On 29 November, the Allied garrison of Toledo left the city and rejoined the main army. The Marquis de Terajes, a supporter of Archduke Charles, was forced to leave Toledo where his palace was set on fire.

On 15 December, Archduke Charles finally reached Barcelona.

On 3 December, Starhemberg's Army left its camp at Chinchon and marched northwards in three columns. The middle column consisted of most Imperial troops led by FM Starhemberg, the left, mostly of British troops led by FM Stanhope, and the right, of Spanish and Portuguese troops led by FM Atalaya.

On 4 December, Stanhope informed Starhemberg that his column would not follow the agreed route and would rather march by way of Brihuega. The two remaining columns went by way of Mondejar, Pastrana and Budia towards Cifuentes

On 8 December

  • Allies
    • The two columns accompanying FM Starhemberg reached Cifuentes, the agreed upon rendezvous with Stanhope's column.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • In the morning, Vendôme's vanguard (7,000 men, including 6 dragoon rgts) under the Lieutenant-General Marquis Thouy reached Brihuega.
    • In the evening, Vendôme's entire army reached Brihuega, cutting the line of communication between Stanhope and Starhemberg.
    • In the night, Vendôme established on the hills around Brihuega

On 9 December

  • Allies
    • Stanhope informed Starhemberg that his troops (8 bns and 8 sqns) were surrounded by superior Franco-Spanish forces led by Vendôme.
    • FM Starhemberg immediately marched with his army to come to the assistance of Stanhope's column, but he would arrive too late…
  • Combat of Brihuega
    • In the morning, Vendôme's artillery opened against the town of Brihuega.
    • In the ensuing Combat of Brihuega, Ven dome forced Stanhope's column to surrender as prisoners of war.

On 10 December, Vendôme's scouts reported the advance of Starhemberg's army towards Brihuega. Vendôme hurried to the hills above Villainous and deployed his army (30 bns, 73 sqns) in two lines. The fiercely contested Combat of Villainous ended with both generals claiming the victory. However, Vendôme had remained master of the battlefield and Starhemberg had been forced to retreat.

On 11 December

  • Allies
    • FM Starhemberg learned about the capture of Stanhope's entire corps. The drivers of several of the wagons and carts accompanying Starhemberg's Army had deserted during the combat of the previous day and Starhemberg was forced to abandon his artillery and his ammunition and baggage carts. They were blown up before leaving march.
    • In the morning, Starhemberg's Army set off from its camp and marched to Algora. On the way, the army was harassed by the hostile population, part of the baggage were stolen and soldiers who lagged behind were killed.

On 15 December, Vendôme's troops were so exhausted that their advance had to be stopped at Siguenza.

On 17 December

  • Allies
    • FM Starhemberg arrived at Daroca on the Jiloca River. The magazines there were found completely empty. The troops were increasingly hungry, many soldiers left the ranks to search for food in the surrounding villages.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Duc de Noailles, who was arriving from Roussillon with his troops, established a blockade around Gerona,
    • Vendôme's Army reached the vicinity of Daroca, the cavalry of his vanguard reached Muel, on a four-hours march from Saragossa.

On 19 December, Starhemberg sent Lieutenant-General Villaroel to Calatayud. His mission was to lead the battalion stationed there with the garrison from Ariza to Saragossa. On his way, Villaroel was attacked by a much stronger detachment under the Spanish Lieutenant-General Mahony. Villaroel managed to reach the Castle of Illueca where he had to surrender with 400 foot and 300 horse with 2 guns.

On 23 December

  • Allies
    • Starhemberg marched by way of Muel to Saragossa.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Although Vendôme had given the Lieutenant-General du Rosel (18,000 men) the order to march on Saragossa, the latter stopped in Exea.

On 25 December, Noailles's artillery began shelling Gerona.

On 29 December, FM Starhemberg held a council of war and explained his plan to his generals.

On 30 December, Starhemberg managed to bring 11 guns found in Saragossa with him. The rest were destroyed, ammunition that could not be transported were thrown into the Ebro. In the aftermath, the Allies left Saragossa.

On 1 January 1711, Starhemberg's Army arrived at Polinillo.

On 5 January, Starhemberg's troops marched by way of Castejon-del-punte, Fons and Tamarite-de-Litera, and reached Balaguer unhindered. They encamped in the neighbourhood. Due to Franco-Spanish forces blockading Gerona, Starhemberg's troops could not yet be sent to their winter-quarters.

References

Edler von Eberswald, H.: Spanischer Successions-Krieg. Feldzug 1710

Bezzel, O.: Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres, Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. File, part 1 and 2, Munich 1925

Acknowledgements

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article